Feminist Last Naming Practices

Nontraditional Last Name Stories

Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor describes the circumstances in which she kept her last name as  “a time when a lot of women were not changing their last name – not by any means all. Many of my friends did change their name, but for me it just wasn’t even… I just didn’t even question it. I just wasn’t planning to change my name.”

She and her husband, whose surname is Finocharo, have created a practical system to account for the occasional confusion of two names in the household: “We use my last name on all of our bills and things like that, just so that my husband doesn’t have to spell his name out every time he does anything…we use Finocharo, like if I’m calling the kids’ doctor, something like that, I often go by Finocharo just to make it easier for them to connect me to whoever they’re talking to.” When asked if she is offended if others accidentally call her Mrs. Finocharo she answers: “Oh, I answer to either, it doesn’t bother me a bit. It doesn’t bother my husband when people call him Taylor either.”

A couple times Taylor mentions that keeping one’s last name means something different from what it did before. When asked if in today’s society she would keep her last name she replies, “I think if I were a young woman getting married today, I might not. Because I don’t think that there’s as many… I don’t know that you’re making as much of a statement about who you are anymore as it was back then. Back then, you know, we were making a conscious statement. For young women these days I think probably the very minor disadvantages of not having the same name as the rest of your family probably made that not a choice that a lot of women probably are going to make.”

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